Category Archives: Champagne

Champagne Tarlant, Vallée de Marne

This is one of the great historic estates of Champagne, owned continuously by the Tarlant Family since 1687. Cultivating 14 hectares in four of the Marne crus (Œuilly, Boursault, St-Agnan and Celles-lès-Condé), the current generation’s Benoît and Mélanie Tarlant are acclaimed as Champagne’s low-dosage specialists, with most of the wines coming in at the 0-4g/L range. The wines are produced with a focus on purity in the bottle and sustainability and respect for nature and terroir in the vineyards.

Core Wines…

“Brut Zero”

“Brut Zero” Rosé

Champagne Sanger, Côte des Blancs

A unique project in France, Sanger is the Champagne “house” run by the students and faculty cellar masters at the Avize Viti Campus, the region’s premier viticultural school. Established in 1919, the school’s vineyards and facilities have been donated by former students who went on to lead their own domaines. Today the school produces Champagne from the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims, including a number of Grand Cru plots.

Core Wines…

“Voyage 360°” Brut Nature

“Terroir Natal” Grand Cru B;amc de Blancs

Ulysse Collin, Coteaux du Sézannais

As mercurial as it has been, Olivier Collin’s rise to Champagne cultdom was completely unexpected. As recently as 2000 Collin was more concerned about practicing law and merely dreaming of re-acquiring his family’s vineyards in the commune of Congy. Then in 2001, he secured an apprenticeship at Sélosse, and from that point forward everything changed. In 2003, leveraging his law experience, Olivier recovered control of the family vineyards in Congy in the Côtes Sézannais, which had been leased to Pommery. With the 2004 vintage, leveraging his experience with Anselme Sélosse, the first Ulysse Collin fruit was harvested.

Sézanne as a vignoble is generally not held in high regard by the Champenois, despite the fact that most of the large Champagne houses source a significant amount of fruit from the region. But Collin’s belief has always been that the terroir is good (even exceptional), but that negligent winemaking and viticulture had earned the region’s not-so-stellar reputation. Great Champagne can indeed be made from this terroir, but the base wine has to be solid— a fact that quantity-minded producers tend to overlook. But Collin focuses first and foremost on making great vin clair from his vineyards. Each of his four parcels is fermented and aged separately in fourth-year Burgundy barrels. Fermentation and malolactic are slow and natural, frequently running into July and August of the year following the vintage. Aging takes place for at least another year before bottling and secondary fermentation.

The terroir varies in the four Ulysse Collin parcels. His first vineyard, Les Pierrières, has a thin clay-limestone topsoil lying over a totally unique chalk-onyx bedrock. Les Roises, Les Maillons, and Les Enfers have heavier topsoil laid over limestone with a more sporadic intermixture of chalk.

Core Wines…

Limited, please enquire

Champagne Perseval-Farge, Montagne de Reims

Jeffrey Alpert was introduced to Perseval-Farge by Benoît Lahaye, a close-by neighbor and long-time fan of the domaine. In all, the Perseval family owns 4 hectares of vines in the Montagne de Reims, spread over 6 different parcels. The vines are set on terroir of varying proportions of clay and sand and are worked organically, with the domaine certified HVE3, High Environmental Value. Vineyards are planted to Chardonnay, the two Pinots, Petit Meslier, Arbanne, and Fromenteau (Pinot Gris), with an average vine age of 30 years.

Core Wines…

“Terre de Sables” Premier Cru

“C. de Rosé”

Champagne Benoît Lahaye, Montagne de Reims

Benoît Lahaye’s vines are located mainly in the Grand Crus of Bouzy and Ambonnay in the southern reaches of the Montagne de Reims, where the clay-limestone terroir favors Pinot Noir. Lahaye also owns a plot in Voipreux, near Vertus in the Côte des Blancs, which is farmed for him by Pierre Larmandier, due to its distance from Bouzy. The vineyards are all organic and biodynamic and worked by horse (Tamise, an Auxois draft horse). Working naturally suits Lahaye philosophically, but there’s also a practical reason: since converting, his grapes ripen better, while still retaining high acid levels. It’s this balancing act that makes his wines distinctly vinous, yet weightless and crystalline. In the winery, Lahaye vinifies each of his parcels separately, generally in 205L barrels, though he’s experimenting with clay amphorae. Following tirage, the wines are aged sur lattes either under cork or crown cap, depending on the richness of the vintage. Total production is around 3,500 cases.

Core Wines…

Limited, please enquire.

Laherte Frères, Epernay

Established in 1889, Laherte Frères now boasts six generations who have run the estate. Though double in size from its original holdings, the estate is still very small by Champagne standards, with just 10.5 hectares, with vineyard holdings across Epernay (with Chavot being the home estate), the Côte des Blancs (including the 1er cru Vertus and Voipreux), and the Vallée de la Marne. Work in the vineyards is traditional and natural, following biodynamic principles and focusing on the overall health of the vines and their surrounding environment. Work in the cellar is similarly inspired, with natural fermentations, use of gravity flow, a focus on purity to express terroir, and light dosage.

Core Wines…

“Ultradition” Brut

“Ultradition” Brut Rosé

Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut Nature

Champagne Roger Coulon, Montagne de Reims

Eric and Isabelle Coulon are the 8th generation of the Coulon family to work as récoltant-manipulants, producing Champagne from Vrigny and the surrounding villages in the Montagne de Reims. The family has gradually increased its holdings so that there are now 10ha under vine, most located within the 1er Cru villages of Vrigny, Coulommes and Pargny, about 10km from Reims. Production is about 7,500 cases per year. The vineyards are planted 40% to Pinot Meunier, 30% to Pinot Noir and 30% to Chardonnay, with an average vine age of 38 years. The vineyards are planted sélection masalle. No herbicides are used and harvest is manual, and only indigenous yeast is used.

Core Wines…

“Heri Hodie” 1er Cru Brut

“L’Hommée” 1er Cru Brut

Champagne Guy Larmandier, Vertus

The cellars of Champagne Guy Larmandier are located in the village of Vertus in the southern Côte des Blancs. The estate owns 9 hectares of vineyards, all located in the district and spread amongst the Grand Cru villages of Chouilly and Cramant and the 1er Cru vineyards of Vertus and Cuis. The domaine is supervised by Guy’s widow, Colette, and their two children, François and Marie-Hélène. Annual production is on the order of 7,500 cases. Harvest is manual, the Champagnes are aged a minimum of 36 months on the lees.

Core Wines…

Vertus 1er Cru Brut Nature

Cramant Grand Cru Brut Nature

Boulard Père & Fille, Montagne de Reims

Francis founded his estate with his daughter, Delphine, in 2010, following a disagreement with his siblings about whether to continue operating the old family estate using conventional agriculture. Left with only 3 hectares of their own, the pair now manage the property biodynamically. The resulting wines are incredibly expressive, a delight to drink and have already garnered a strong reputation for being amongst the best grower-producer Champagnes on the market. Francis retired in 2017 after a 50+ year career, and now Delphine is in charge of the estate.

Core Wines…

“Les Murgieres” Brut Nature

Champagne Agrapart, Avize

Founded in 1884, Agrapart has been at the forefront of the quality-over-commercial movement in Champagne since the 1950s. The domaine now spans over 9 hectares, all in the Côte des Blancs, principally around Avize, where the winery is located. The estate is traditional to the core: the vineyards are plowed by draft horse, picked by hand, 100% native fermentations by parcel, and aging in neutral oak barrels on the lees. Being in the Côte des Blancs, the principal varietal is Chardonnay, but the Agrapart brothers also grow plots of Pinots Noir, Meunier, and Blanc, and even Petit Meslier. Across their holdings the average vine age is more than 35 years, with a substantial portion being more than 60 years of age. Total annual production is 5,400 cases or fewer.

Core Wines…

“7 Crus” Brut NV

“Terroirs” Grand Cru Blancs de Blancs Extra Brut